Letter to the editor: More on the impact of words


I applaud Will Chen’s recent commentary in My Edmonds News, “Reader View: Names matter – Covid-19 vs. ‘Chinese Virus’.  (March 29, 2020). Mr. Chen’s letter was well written and contained supporting evidence and argument. He persuasively argued that the way words are used can inspire ignorance in people. My hope is that we in Edmonds extend this concern for fairness and acceptance to all groups and ethnicities.

Therefore, I am sharing an email that I felt compelled to write to my work colleagues, a group which on the surface claims to have deep concern for racist attitudes and language. In the email I included this My Edmonds News post from Larry Vogel, which references the man who was randomly attacked and to which I refer in the email to my colleagues.

My email:

Dear Colleagues,

I am sorry to say that I have heard several times in the staff lounge and other places, staff making disparaging and what they THOUGHT were funny comments about “old white men.”  I want to make sure that everyone here is aware that prejudice and hate speech is not limited to certain groups. When it becomes acceptable to talk about certain groups of people in hateful and unkind ways and that becomes common practice in the vernacular, then it can become “acceptable” to verbally or even physically attack people. We have no way of knowing what the motive for the attack on this gentleman was.  However, it certainly does seem to be a random hate crime.  Please think carefully about what you say and maybe think about being consistent in your attitudes about kindness, fairness, race and equity.


My sincere vision for Edmonds is that we remain a community which celebrates all our citizens and cultures even in the face of an existential threat such as the current COVID-19 virus.

Lynne Chelius


15 Replies to “Letter to the editor: More on the impact of words”

  1. Lynn, I am not “young”, “any color one wants to choose other then white” or a “women” but do use the “disparaging” term you mentioned when wanting to make the point to others matching my age, color, and gender. The general point is simply to remind myself and those to whom I am talking that we need to think differently in today’s world that we did in the past. All of “us” (OWM ) get the short hand comment right away and do start to think differently if only for a few moments. I am curious to know what you would suggest we use instead in those circumstances?


    1. To Matt and anyone else who’s feeling this way. Let me assure you — as I always have — that anyone who feels comments are not being approved for whatever reason — and the reasons are usually obvious, not arbitrary (at least to me) — is ALWAYS welcome to write a letter to the editor, a reader view commentary or something similar. I have invited Matt and others to do this on numerous occasions when the comments do not fit the article being commented on. But that hasn’t happened. I still invite that and welcome that for anyone who is feeling the need to be heard — Matt or anyone else — outside of the traditional comments on particular articles.


  2. I obviously do not know why Matt was censored. One thing I do know is that while he is very knowledgeable he hasn’t yet learned to know what he doesn’t know.


    1. Deleting a comment because it wasn’t on the topic of a post is not, in my opinion, censorship. And to be transparent, I deleted a comment by Nathaniel as well, on the same post, because it also wasn’t on topic.


      1. I am removing the comments on this post related to Matt’s departure. I am really trying to practice more kindness during these trying times and I regret approving them. — Teresa


        1. I, for one, appreciate these sentiments. Thank you Teresa. It is sad that Matt probably already read them. He did not deserve these public insults. There will be a “hole” where there was once humor, facts, thought, and the privilege of seeing the world through the very dashing and smart “Matt Richardson”. Agree or not, WE killed the Mockingbird of youth and our ability to see how he and his unique perspective interprets our community and our world. Sad Day.


        2. This could be an apocalypse movie, where our world is left with only comments and opinions of mostly men, predominately liberal, over 60, mostly white. Not such a happy thought for our enlightment.


      2. Just to be clear: I have NO problem with this. Teresa does an admirable job while being inundated. If I have in any way added to her difficulties, I can only say that it was unintentional.

        Please keep up the good work!

        As for the rest of us – please subscribe, if you haven’t already. MEN is a unique community resource!


  3. If one is careful on comments they do not get removed. The more we stay on topic the more valuable this forum is. I am still truly and sincerely interested in the writers help on how to deal with the situation I posed. The situation is very real and I am trying to learn how best to fit into the new would of words matter.


  4. A year or so ago, or maybe two; after being verbally beaten up over something he wrote by myself and some other people commenting; Darrol Haug wrote in that he’d had it and was bowing out of taking any more part in the public discourse on MEN. I felt really bad about this and I urged him in my next comment to reconsider that action which he did. Over time we went from criticizing each other’s views to being coffee friends and confidants to a small extent. We still tell each other we are “nuts” on occasion which is part of the fun.

    At this time I extend the same suggestion to Matt that he re-consider his decision to disengage here. I agree with Mr. Wambolt’s comment above; but I also think Matt’s views are just as important, or not important as mine and they should be heard for others to evaluate. Same goes for all who comment here. As long as we kick around ideas and viewpoints openly, we are a civil society. It’s when we quit talking and occasionally revising our take on things that we are in big trouble. Matt I totally urge you to listen to Ron and I on this one. I think it’s important for you to be heard, even if I don’t agree with you on most occasions or some occasions. I actually do agree with you about a lot of things. Peace my friend.


  5. To stay close to topic I note that Matt is not that old, looks to be light colored, and I know him to be a father. I too share the idea that we need voices that are not OWM like Clint and Ron and others. Matt, you come from Maine where good things like maple sap “slowly” comes our of trees and becomes something good. You can help all of us included us OWM to learn new things and then come to some of the same conclusions as you may already of decided. “Teaching” is an art, “telling” is much easier. Matt just shift a bit with all your knowledge and ideas and teach all of us, included the us OWM that were the subject of this article to begin with.

    Thanks Teresa for all you do. Can we name you citizen of the year twice in a row!


  6. I’m home from college, UCLA school of nursing, staying with my grandparents to help them during this pandemic. I’ve been reading My Edmonds News everyday for the last 3 1/2 weeks, along with much studying and watching classes that are offered remotely, to keep up with my studies. With most commenters I believe I could guess, age, political affiliation, and gender, just by the way the comment was structured, phrases used, conclusions drawn, within the comment. One commenter had caught my eye/ear, that would be Matt Richardson. His ideas and commentary is that of our younger generation. It is current, thoughtful and leaves the reader with a sense of being “schooled” even if you do not agree with him. I read that he feels he has been censored; I don’t know that. But why would he stop writing if he did not feel it? One man tells him “he hasn’t yet learned to know what he doesn’t know”. Really? Another tells him that “teaching is an art, telling is much easier”, and recommends that Matt “shift” a bit and teach us all. Hmmm, so if Matt starts shifting his vision, knowledge, and changes his way of expressing his thoughts then and only then would you allow yourself to be taught? Because he does not think like you, who I would venture to say, all could probably be his grandfather’s age. There is no doubt there is experience and wisdom perhaps in these several men who give advice so freely. I have read many of their posts in recent weeks, some good, albeit very wordy, stuff. But what this subject seems to be missing is a younger man, who does not want to move like “honey” or molasses. I doubt that any of you did when you were young in this decidedly, mostly male commentary. Thank the Lord for men like Matt Richardson, he has thoughts and the ability and gift of which to express them. You all need to move on over a bit, make room for the younger generation and welcome new, innovative commentary. If you don’t agree that is your choice, but some of your thoughts for him to conform “shift”, to your way of communicating are not a good way to welcome debate. I applaud that the editor removed the harshest personal comments. It also is curious that it is all men making the negative comments, while all women defending Mr. Richardson, curious, no? Maybe the “young Turk” has to fight the “old bulls/steers” for his place in this comments section. I’m not yet 20, but I’ve gone to school in Spain and France, and I really would like you all to reconsider, slide it over a bit, and make room……. Matt should not have to change, no pre cursors, he communicates in his own vernacular, which might be new to you. It is very familiar to me. You do want new younger readers, do you not? It is becoming a new Era; I chose to spend my “down” time here helping the “older generation.” So please “Scootch” on over and support the “new generation” of leaders, fathers, businessmen. Let them have a voice, your generation before you had to do this. It is time for more thoughtful and generous thoughts.


    1. Thanks for the comments Laura, new and refreshing. Feel much more like a steer now vs and old bull. I know Matt and he is delightful to engage in conversation. I was the one mentioning Teaching vs Telling. My point was that while Matt may know the answer to a complicated issue, telling me the answer is not as effective as teaching me about the issues so I to can learn and come to the same conclusions on an issue. Then one can say I learned the complexities of the issues from Matt and then came to the same conclusion as he did. It sticks with us older folks if we learn the steps to the answer vs just the answer.

      One of the most important things us old folks can do is support the younger generation with the best possible education we can provide them. You are kind to help your grandparents. My grand kids come over and chat through the window but that too is a blessing in these times.

      Thanks again for you comments. My best is you and other young folks who will be the answer to our nations future needs.


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